Abandoning a gun in a public place could become a crime under a new bill that may have trouble making much progress in the GOP-dominated Kansas Legislature.
Rep. Dennis “Boog” Highberger, a Lawrence Democrat, has prefiled a bill that would make the unlawful abandonment of a gun either a Class C misdemeanor or a “severity level 10, nonperson felony, if the unlawful conduct results in the bodily harm or death of a person.”
The bill comes roughly a year after Rep. Willie Dove, a Bonner Springs Republican, left a loaded firearm in a room where legislative committee meetings are held.
“It means I’m going to get me a shoulder holster,” Dove told The Wichita Eagle last year when asked whether he would change his behavior.
Dove told the paper that he had removed the weapon from an ankle holster because the ankle had begun to swell.
“I unclamped it from my right leg and pushed it back, and when I got up, I just forgot it,” Dove said.
Dove did not immediately respond to a phone call from The Star Tuesday afternoon about the new bill.
Highberger said the bill was not aimed at Dove.
“I think it’s important to make it clear that with gun rights come responsibilities,” Highberger said.
A measure signed by Gov. Sam Brownback in 2013 opened up the Capitol to firearms.
Guns were a frequent topic during the 2017 legislative session as some lawmakers tried to tighten the state’s laws on firearms. An effort to permanently exempt state colleges and universities from being forced to allow concealed handguns failed to pass either the House or the Senate.
In an interview with The Star, Highberger pointed to campus carry as a concern that played into his new bill.
But a bipartisan majority of lawmakers succeeded in passing legislation that allowed the state’s psychiatric hospitals and the University of Kansas Health System to continue banning concealed handguns in their facilities without making certain security upgrades. Other public hospitals throughout the state also were included in the bill.
Bryan Lowry contribued to this report.